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Seminole County Judge Takes Creative Approach to Curb Drunk Drivers

Orlando personal injury lawyer James O. Cunningham fully supports anything that reduces the number of drunk drivers on our roads and believes that an 18th Circuit Court judge in Seminole County may be onto something. Judge Carmine Bravo has been famous for his creative approach to sentencing for quite some time, but the never-ending parade of DUI cases in his court has prompted him to hand down some unusual sentencing since 2004. Since then, he has sentenced those convicted of drunk driving and other traffic offenses to write 500-word essays about people whose names appear on the many roadside markers in Central Florida.

“Sentencing should include something punitive, educational and remedial if possible,” Bravo said. “Many don’t realize how irresponsible they can be on the road. It takes focus, care and maturity to drive.”

Since 1997, the Florida Department of Transportation has provided the round roadside signs free of charge to families of auto accident victims. Anyone sentenced to compose an essay by Judge Bravo is required to research five auto accident victims, obtain accident reports for each, visit each person’s memorial site, pull weeds, pick up trash or otherwise improve the area and take a picture of the scene. The judge has received many hundreds of such essays since 2004. Each writer must also include details about each fatal accident, the impact the accident had on each victim’s family and how the accident could have been avoided.

One convicted drunk driver seemed to understand the point that the judge was trying to make. He wrote, “Ain’t a buzz in the world worth somebody’s life. Cab fare is cheaper than a funeral and DUI charge.”

Assistant State Attorney Kyan Ware also endorses the judge’s alternative sentencing, and he is pressing to have people convicted of felonies included in the essay-writing punishment.

“A lot people see DUI as a victimless crime if it doesn’t involve serious bodily injury or death, but the potential to kill someone is just as high as someone firing a loaded gun into a crowd,” he said. “The difference is you use a 3,000-pound machine. [The program] is about rehabilitation and education in order to prevent recidivism.”

Orlando personal injury attorney James O. Cunningham could not agree more. DUI is not a victimless crime and he knows this better than most. Since 1977, he has represented people injured by drunk drivers and the families of those killed by people who choose to drink and get behind the wheel. If you have been injured by a drunk driver and want to speak with an aggressive attorney to help you seek damages, call Mr. Cunningham today at 888-425-2004 or 407-425-2000 to schedule a free consultation.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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